Posts Tagged With: archaeologists

Crusader Shipwreck Discovered off Israel’s Coast, gold coins and more…


Archaeologists have found the wreck of a ship belonging to the Crusaders, dating back to their expulsion from Acre in the thirteenth century CE, off the coast of northern Israel.

The Crusader stronghold was destroyed in 1291 CE when the Mamluk Sultanate captured it, driving the Christian armies from the region. Golden coins dating to the era were found alongside the wreck, making it easy to pinpoint when the ship sank in the waters outside Acre, according to an article appearing in Haaretz.

Taking Acre was a major victory for the Mamluks, as Christian European forces had long used the site as a landing point for countless knights and soldiers. When Jerusalem fell out of Crusader hands after being recaptured by Saladin in 1187, Acre became the new Crusader capital in the Holy Land.

Marine archaeologists from Haifa University Prof. Michal Artzy and Dr. Ehud Galili spearheaded the investigation of the Crusader shipwreck. The ship itself suffered damage while the modern harbor of Acre was being dredged during its construction; the surviving wreckage includes some ballast-covered wooden planks, the ship’s keep, and a few sections of its hull.

Carbon dating has revealed the wood used to construct the hull dates to between 1062 CE and 1250 CE, firmly within the window for Crusader activity in the region. In addition to the associated golden coins found near the wreckage, marine archaeologists also discovered imported ceramic bowls and jugs from southern Italy, Syria, and Cyprus; corroded pieces of iron, mostly nails and anchors, were additional finds.

The biggest find, however, is certainly thought to be the gold coins found with the wreck. A total of 30 florins were found, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority’s coin expert Robert Kool; minted in the Italian republic of Florence – where the coins get their name – the florins were minted from 1252.

Speculation as to how the ship – and the florins – ended up on the bottom of Acre’s harbor is closely tied to the Siege of Acre, as historical eyewitness accounts from the event reported nobles and merchants fleeing from the besieged fortress by boat, often after bribing the owners of these boats with valuables. Many never made it out of the harbor, thought to have drowned there with their riches as the Christian defenders sought futilely to buy them some time to escape.

The Crusader fortress fell on May 18th, 1291, after more than 100 years of Frankish rule. The final defenders, a contingent of Knights Templar, refused to abandon their holdfast. As a result, when Mamluk sappers undermined the walls of the Templar fortress, the entire edifice collapsed, killing the remaining defenders – and around a hundred of the Sultan’s own soldiers as well.

The fall of Acre was the last gasp of the Christian crusades during the medieval era. Once the stronghold was taken by the Mamluks and summarily destroyed, the Catholic Church and the European nobles that supported it abandoned their quest to “liberate” the Holy Land.

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Categories: Ancient Treasure, Archaeology, artifacts, gold, gold coins, Legends, Lost Treasure, Middle East, Muslims, sunken ships, treasure, treasure diver, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Skeleton of Burnt ‘Witch Girl’ Found in Italy….


Italian archaeologists have unearthed the remains of a Medieval teenage girl who was burnt and thrown carelessly in a pit, her grave covered with heavy stone slabs.

Her burial shows she was seen as a danger even when dead, according to the archaeologists.

The skeleton was discovered at the complex of San Calocero in Albenga on the Ligurian Riviera, by a team led by scientific director Philippe Pergola, professor of topography of the Orbis Christianus Antiquus at the Pontifical Institute of Archaeology at the Vatican.

 

At the same location, in September 2014, the team unearthed the remains of another “witch girl,” a 13-year-old female who was buried face-down.

Like other deviant burials, in which the dead were buried with a brick in the mouth, nailed or staked to the ground, or even decapitated and dismembered, both the face-down burial and the stone-covered tomb aimed at preventing the dead girls from rising from the grave.

Further analysis determined the “witch girl” who was buried face-down just suffered from scurvy, a disorder caused by an insufficient intake of vitamin C.

It is unlikely the two witch girls are related. While the first girl died between the first half of 1400 and the beginning of 1500, the newly found skeleton is likely older, the archaeologists say.

“We are waiting for the radiocarbon dating results. At the moment we can date the burial between the 9th and the 15th century,” said archaeologist Stefano Roascio, the excavation director.

Standing just 4.75 feet tall, the girl was 15-17 years old when she died. She was burnt in an unknown location and then brought to the San Calocero site where she was hastily buried.

“We can’t say whether she was alive or not when she was burnt. Fire attacked her body when soft tissues were still present, so it could have occurred before death or soon after,” anthropologist Elena Dellù told Discovery News.

The girl was hurriedly interred, with only heavy stones thrown over her grave.

“She was taken by her elbows and just thrown in the pit. Her head leaned on the vertical wall of the pit, so that it was bent. Indeed, her chin almost touched the breastbone,” Dellù said.

Preliminary analysis revealed porotic hyperostosis on the skull and orbits. These are areas of spongy or porous bone tissue and are the result of severe iron deficiency anemia.

Enamel hypoplasia, a condition in which enamel becomes weak, was also present and pointed to childhood stresses such as malnutrition.

Her pallor, her possible hematomas and fainting might have scared the community.

The condition appear similar to that of the first “witch girl” who was diagnosed with scurvy on the basis of porotic hyperostosis found in crucial points. The spongy areas were present on the external surface of the occipital bone, on the orbital roofs, near the dental sockets and on the palate, and on the greater wings of the sphenoid.

“Unfortunately the skeleton of the second girl is damaged right in those bones where scurvy can be diagnosed. However, we cannot rule it out completely given theporotic hyperostosis on the skull,” Dellù said.

The excavation, which is currently funded by private foundations (Fondazione Nino Lamboglia of Rome and Fondazione bancaria De Mari of Savona) will continue in 2016.

“At the end of the digging campaign we will focus on specific analysis. If the radiocarbon dating shows the two girls are from the same period, we will try to compare their DNA,” Dellù said.

Categories: Archaeology, artifacts, Execution, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli archaeologists say they may have found fabled tomb of biblical Maccabees…..


APTOPIX Mideast Israel Archaeology-4

Israeli archaeologists may be one step closer to solving a riddle that has vexed explorers for more than a century: the location of the fabled tomb of the biblical Maccabees.

Israel’s government Antiquities Authority said Monday that an ancient structure it began excavating this month on the side of a highway appears to match ancient descriptions of the tomb of Jewish rebels who wrested control of Judea from Seleucid rule and established a Jewish kingdom in the 2nd century B.C.

Scholars in Israel’s quarrelsome archaeological community tend to agree that the site, in an Israeli forest west of Jerusalem and a short walk from the West Bank, is a significant burial site but reserve judgment about its connection to the Maccabees. Now the Antiquities Authority, which sometimes relies on private funding to help finance digs, is soliciting donations so it can keep searching for evidence.

“We still don’t have the smoking gun,” said Amit Reem, a government archaeologist who helped lead the dig.

The Maccabees are considered heroes in both Judaism and Christianity. The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah commemorates Mattathias and his five sons who revolted against Hellenic rulers who banned Jewish practices, and rededicated the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. The biblical Books of the Maccabees, which include a tale of Jewish martyrs dying for their faith, are a source of inspiration in some Christian traditions.

In the late 1880s, a succession of European explorers went searching for the tomb. They were drawn to a barren area near the West Bank village of Midya, a name that resembles Modiin, the ancient town where the biblical account says the Maccabee family was buried.

Arab villagers pointed one European explorer toward a hilltop dotted with rock-hewn graves known by locals as “the graves of the Jews.” Archaeologists today say these cannot be the graves of the Maccabees, but Israeli road signs still label them as such and Hanukkah ceremonies are held there to honor the ancient rebels.

Another 19th-century explorer was drawn to a nearby Arab tomb, where he announced that he found the remains of Mattathias. Archaeologists say the small domed structure has no connection to the elder Maccabee, but a modern tombstone engraved in Hebrew marks it as his burial site. Today, candles and Jewish prayer pamphlets are strewn about.

“It was more wishful thinking than hardcore archaeological evidence,” Reem said about the European explorers’ discoveries.

It is a third spot, just a few paces away from the domed structure, that captures Israeli archaeologists’ imaginations. French scholar Charles Clermont-Ganneau first excavated it in the late 1800s and found a mosaic floor featuring a Byzantine Christian cross. The site was then abandoned. This month, Israeli archaeologists and volunteers cleared away rubble and exposed the simple mosaic cross for the first time in more than 100 years.

Reem said the cross is a clue. It appears on the floor of a burial niche at the site. It is the only Byzantine-era site where a cross decorates the floor of a burial vault, he said, indicating that it may have marked the spot of an important figure. He thinks it is likely that the Byzantines — early Christians — identified this site as the Maccabees’ tomb.

“What other important figures would be here?” Reem said, standing in the deep pit of the archaeological site.

Oren Tal, an archaeologist at Tel Aviv University who was not involved with the dig, said the mosaic cross is not necessarily a significant clue. He said the burial niche may have been converted into a Byzantine chapel, where a cross would have been standard.

But he agreed with Reem about other characteristics that correspond to the biblical account and to an account by ancient historian Josephus Flavius. Both describe the Tomb of the Maccabees as a tall structure that could be seen from the Mediterranean Sea, featuring columns and seven pyramids.

Reem says four thick column bases found at the site may be indications that the structure was once 5 meters (over 15 feet) tall, and large rock slabs Clermont-Ganneau said he found — which have since gone missing from the site — could have been the bases of pyramid decorations. Before a forest was planted in the area, it had a direct line of sight to the sea.

Reem said he cannot yet date the site to earlier than the 5th century A.D. He wants to excavate more, to look for an inscription or architectural elements that could associate the structure with the time of the Maccabees.

For the past decade, he said, finding the tomb has been his personal holy grail.

“It (is) crucial for everybody … to solve once and for all this riddle,” he said.

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Treasure of bronze objects from before 3.5 thousand years discovered in Bieszczady…..


Treasure containing bronze objects has been discovered in Rzepedź in Bieszczady Mountains. 3.5 thousand years old items had found their way to today’s Podkarpacie from beyond the Carpathians. Archaeologists made the discovery with help from a friend – finder, who stumbled on an ice axe and necklace fragments while walking.

“All the objects are made of bronze. The treasure contains a pickaxe, dozens of fragments of a spiral necklace and a bracelet of with recurving endings” – told PAP Piotr Kotowicz, an archaeologist at the Historical Museum in Sanok.

 

Ice axe and valuables were hidden in a clay jug with a diameter of 25 cm. Before burying it in a pit, the vessel was turned upside down and placed on a sandstone plate.

 

Archaeological discovery in Rzepedź was made accidentally. A few days ago, while walking, Łukasz Solon from Sanok noticed an ice axe sticking out of the ground. After returning, he contacted the Sanok museum.

 

On the next day, archaeologists began searching the around the place he pointed. It turned out that the ice axe was just one of many finds.

 

“For me, as an archaeologist it is very important that after finding one object the discoverer did not explore the place further himself, but reported the discovery and waited for specialists. This approach is commendable, and from the point of view of archaeology, it means preserving a lot of information that are unrecoverable after amateur exploration of a treasure such as the one from Rzepedź” – Piotr Kotowicz told the portal Archeolog.pl.

 

According to Kotowicz, the discovered objects were probably made south of the Carpathians. “The treasure is probably related to the communication route, which ran from the nearby Łupków Pass through the Osława and San valleys” – noted the archaeologist.

 

Bronze monuments from Rzepedź have been preliminarily dated to approx. 1500 years before Christ. “We do not yet know who and why had hidden the treasure so carefully. Axe and jewellery are most likely related to the Piliny culture, then existing south of the Carpathians” – noted Kotowicz.

 

In the 1990s in Trzcinica near Jasło, approx. 30-40 km from Rzepedź, archaeologists discovered Poland’s oldest fortified settlements dating back more than four thousand years, with strong Transcarpathian influence. Later, between 1650 and 1350 BC, the area was inhabited by the highly civilised Transcarpathian Otomani-Füzesabony culture.

 

Piotr Kotowicz told PAP that in recent days a survey has been conducted with a representative of the local conservation office in Krosno, which is a prelude to broader research. It might allow to determine whether the discovery is isolated, or had been buried within a settlement from that period.

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Archaeologists are determined to halt the excavation…..


MOD ACCUSED OF ALLOWING THE ‘PLUNDER’ OF A SHIPWRECK…..

The Ministry of Defence is facing a legal battle and parliamentary questions after letting a US company excavate a British 18th-century warship laden with a potentially lucrative cargo.
Lord Renfrew is among leading archaeologists condemning a deal struck over HMS Victory, considered the world’s mightiest ship when she sank in the Channel in 1744.
In return for excavating the vessel’s historic remains, which may include gold and silver worth many millions of pounds, Odyssey Marine Exploration is entitled to receive “a percentage of the recovered artefacts’ fair value” or “artefacts in lieu of cash”.
Lord Renfrew, a Cambridge academic, said: “That is against the Unesco convention, in particular against the annexe, which states that underwater cultural heritage may not be sold off or exploited for commercial gain. Odyssey is a commercial salvager. It’s not clear that payment could be obtained other than by the sale of the artefacts which are raised – which, of course, is how Odyssey has operated in the past. To raise artefacts simply for sale would be regarded by most responsible archaeologists as plundering.”
Two bronze guns have already been recovered from the wreck and sold to the National Museum of the Royal Navy, funded out of the MoD’s grant.
The archaeologists accuse the MoD of dereliction of duty in passing responsibility for the wreck to the Maritime Heritage Foundation (MHF), a charitable trust “which appears to have no financial, archaeological or management resources” while embarking on a project “that will cost millions”.
Archaeologists are determined to halt the excavation and are taking advice from maritime lawyers. The issue was raised by the All-party Parliamentary Archaeology Group.
An Odyssey spokeswoman said that the MHF will work with an advisory group including representatives from the MoD and English Heritage, “to ensure that best archaeological practices are adopted in line with the annexe”.

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Archeologists in Egypt unearth 3000-year-old tombs…….


Egypt’s Antiquities Minister says Italian archaeologists have unearthed tombs over 3000 years old in the ancient city of Luxor.
Mohammed Ibrahim says the discovery was made beneath the mortuary temple of King Amenhotep II, seventh Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty who reigned from 1427 to 1401 B.C. The temple is located on the western bank of the Nile.
Ibrahim says remains of wooden sarcophaguses and human bones were found inside the tombs.
Mansour Barek, head of Luxor antiquities, says jars used to preserve the liver, lungs, stomach and intestines of the deceased were found. They were decorated with images of the four sons of the god Horus — figures seen as essential by ancient Egyptians to help the soul of the deceased find its way to heaven.

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Ancient Thracian gold hoard unearthed in Bulgaria……




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Bulgarian archaeologists unearthed ancient golden artefacts, including bracelets with snake heads, a tiara with animal motifs and a horse head piece during excavation works at a Thracian tomb in northern Bulgaria, they said on Thursday.
The new golden artefacts are dated back to the end of the fourth or the beginning of the third century BC and were found in the biggest of 150 ancient tombs of a Thracian tribe, the Getae, that was in contact with the Hellenistic world.
The findings also included a golden ring, 44 applications of female figures as well as 100 golden buttons.
“These are amazing findings from the apogee of the rule of the Getae,” said Diana Gergova, head of the archaeologist team at the site of the ancient Getic burial complex situated near the village of Sveshtari, some 400 km northeast from Sofia.
“From what we see up to now, the tomb may be linked with the first known Getic ruler Cothelas,” said Gergova, a renown researcher of Thracian culture with the Sofia-based National Archaeology Institute.
One of the tombs there, known as the Tomb of Sveshtari, is included in the World Heritage List of U.N. education and culture agency, UNESCO, for its unique architectural decor with half-human, half-plant female figures and painted murals.
The Thracians, ruled by a powerful warrior aristocracy rich in gold treasures, inhabited an area extending over modern Romania and Bulgaria, northern Greece and the European part of Turkey from as early as 4,000 BC.
They lived on the fringes of the Greek and Roman civilizations, often intermingling and clashing with the more advanced cultures until they were absorbed into the Roman Empire around 45 AD.
Archaeologists have discovered a large number of artefacts in Bulgaria’s Thracian tombs in recent decades, providing most of what is known of their culture, as they had no written language and left no enduring records.

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Guatemala excavates early Mayan ruler’s tomb……



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Archaeologists announced Thursday they have uncovered the tomb of a very early Mayan ruler, complete with rich jade jewelry and decoration.
Experts said the find at Guatemala’s Tak’alik Ab’aj temple site could help shed light on the formative years of the Mayan culture.
Government archaeologist Miguel Orrego said carbon-dating indicates the tomb was built between 700 and 400 B.C., several hundred years before the Mayan culture reached its height. He said it was the oldest tomb found so far at Tak’alik Ab’aj, a site in southern Guatemala that dates back about 2,200 years.
Orrego said a necklace depicting a vulture-headed human figure appeared to identify the tomb’s occupant as an “ajaw,” or ruler.
“This symbol gives this burial greater importance,” Orrego said. “This glyph says he … is one of the earliest rulers of Tak’alik Ab’aj.”
No bones were found during the excavation of the tomb in September, probably because they had decayed.
Experts said the rich array of jade articles in the tomb could provide clues about production and trade patterns.
Susan Gillespie, an archaeologist at the University of Florida who was not involved in the excavation, said older tombs have been found from ruling circles at the Mayan site of Copan in Honduras as well as in southern Mexico, where the Olmec culture, a predecessor to the Mayas, flourished.
Olmec influences are present in the area around Tak’alik Ab’aj, indicating possible links.
Gillespie said that because it is near a jadeite production center, the find could shed light on early techniques and trade in the stone, which was considered by the Maya to have sacred properties.

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Cat leads owner to discovery of ancient Roman ruins…..


Mirko Curti was chasing his cat through the streets of his village on Tuesday night when the cat inadvertently discovered a set of ancient Roman ruins.
“The cat managed to get into a grotto and we followed the sound of its meowing,” Curti told the Guardian.
When he caught up to the animal, it had crawled into an opening in the side of a cliff. Inside the opening, Curti stumbled upon a 2,000-year-old tomb “piled with bones” and ancient Roman urns.
The tomb was discovered just outside a residential area in the Roman city of Via di Pietralata.
Archeologists who were called to the site have speculated that it dates back to sometime between the 1st century B.C. and the 2nd century A.D.
Curti described the discovery as “the most incredible experience” of his life.
The archeologists said that recent rains in the area were likely responsible for exposing the tomb and noted that several other similar discoveries have been made in the area in recent years.

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Death-Cult Mummies Inspired by Desert Conditions?



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Preserved by one of Earth’s driest climates, a long-buried corpse in Chile’s Atacama Desert retains centuries-old skin, hair, and clothing.

Naturally dehydrated corpses like this probably inspired the region’s ancient Chinchorro people to actively mummify their dead, scientists speculate in a new study. The practice, researchers suggest, took off during a time of natural plenty and population growth, when the Chinchorro were better able to innovate and develop culturally.

Living in fishing villages along the coasts of Chile and Peru, the Chinchorro had begun mummifying skeletons by 5050 B.C., thousands of years before the Egyptians. Archaeologists have long wondered how the practice—and a related cult of death—arose, with some speculating it had been imported from the notably wetter Amazon Basin.

“Our study is one of the few to document the emergence of social complexity due to environmental change”—in this case, climate shifts that desiccated the Atacama, study leader Pablo Marquet said.

“Until now, most of the emphasis has been on how environmental change triggers the collapse of societies,” said Marquet, an archaeologist at Catholic University in Santiago, Chile.

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